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More on Hubble

Since Friday’s Space News report that NASA will offer no funding for a Hubble robotic repair mission, there have been a few additional reports about the subject, including articles by the Washington Post, New York Times, and Baltimore Sun. These reports don’t offer many new details, instead mainly confirming the original report that, by the time the proposed FY06 budget is released two weeks from today, NASA will announce that it will provide no additional funding for a repair mission. As these articles note, this is a decision likely to raise the ire of astronomers and politicians. Indeed, late Friday Hubble’s most ardent backer, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), issued a very brief press release saying the she will “lead the fight again this year” for a servicing mission. The House Science Committee has also been planning a hearing tentatively scheduled for next week with Louis Lanzerotti, who chaired the National Research Council study that argued for a shuttle servicing mission, among those scheduled to appear. That hearing should be especially interesting…

1 comment to More on Hubble

  • I can’t help feeling that this while this is fianancially necessary for the VSE to go forward, the ham-fisted way it is being handled is a political disaster.

    The robotic mission is a clear waste of money, however much people might try to justify it as supporting VSE.

    However, by not throwing Hubble supporters a bone (say, more money to accelerate the James Webb telescope or a human mission to repair Hubbble), NASA is guaranteeing itself a debilitating political fight. As I wrote in my new column for International Space Review, the Hubble battle has already taken too much of the political momentum out of the VSE, and now it stands to take even more.

    (One of the things I think this little episode has demonstrated is that people are much cheaper than robots, even when they are launched on the super-expensive Shuttle, and that robots should not be expected to do complex tasks that humans can easily do, even on Mars.)

    Does anyone recall if the Webb’s science and control facilities will be in Ms. Mikulski’s district? If that hasn’t been decided, it might be an appropriate bone to throw.

    – Donald